What's Up This Week

What’s Up This Week? Surprise New Painters, An Open Sunroom, & A (Literal) Stain Mix-Up. PLUS: Cake!

Highs and lows around here…highs and lows.

We got our a$$es handed to us a week ago, so we had low expectations for making any real progress in the near future. Yet somehow, a magical fairy housemother smiled upon us, and we ended up with a new painter, electricity in the kitchen, and cake!

What’s Been Happening

New Day, New Painters

That’s a sexy bench right there.

Credit goes to Andrew for this one all , because he was able to pull a new painter out of his bag of contractor tricks by Monday morning to start tackling the un-poly’ed woodwork on the second floor and some of the remaining kitchen cabinet work that hadn’t been addressed by the previous painters.

They were also able to stain the newly built dining room casement windows and oak bench seat. Much of Charlotte’s original wood is red oak with a hard-earned, yellow-tinged patina, but several pieces, including these windows, the bench, and some railing balusters, were remade to match the original features that had been too damaged to save.

Some of the interior doors are also oak, some are old growth pine, and some doors are brand new pine that we’ve added (including the utility room saloon doors we highlighted on our Instagram). Clearly, there’s a huge range of wood variation throughout the house, so finding a unicorn stain match that makes everything feel like it’s part of the same 130-ish year old house has been a real challenge.

David from Lancaster House Painter had a custom stain blend made up for us that seemed to be the perfect look we needed, but once it was applied to the windows, it was way too light and didn’t match the sample at all.

It took a day of trial, error, and running back to the supplier, but eventually we figured out that Charlotte is just a fussy bitch and would accept no ordinary stain on her fresh new woodwork. No sir, her wood requires a complex formula that must be stirred constantly—constantly!—or else the mixture will separate so quickly that the dark tint will all gather at the bottom of the container and laugh at our adorable attempts to stain the windows with nothing but the lightest tint that’s risen to the top of the container. Not nice, Charlotte…not nice.

Anyway, once we lost we a day and pinpointed the issue, the bench finally got its color and looks absolutely outstanding. We went with oil-based poly on top of that to help it age & yellow over time, and we’re having Andrew put some epoxy in the grooves on top before the last coat(s). This bench is, after all, where a herd of toddlers will be eating/drinking/food-fighting, so we’d rather not have to dig falafel out of the crevices for the next 10 years.

Woodwork: We’ve Only Just Begun…

That is not a sexy window.

There’s a surprising amount of woodwork that was left unpainted in this place, but not much of it (or any?) was taken care of, so there’s much to do on the wood restoration front. We’re saving the gorgeous dining room & stairwell wall panels for another day/year/millennia, but someone would need to call the authorities on us if we let our children anywhere near the living room windows in their current condition.

Once the new drywall went up and the old plaster exterior walls were skim coated, you could really see just how grimy the window casings and sills are after decades of college kids climbing in and out of the windows (#FunFratFact: one of the living room bay windows was kept permanently unlocked so the guys could come in and out without a key).

Jack did a test cleaning on one of the sills last week before the wall was primed and realized that the amount of wood cleaner and elbow grease required for the job was very likely going to damage the surrounding wall, so she primed the space first and is working on getting the wood cleaned before we really paint the walls.

Time has been in short supply, but so far, it’s become clear that we’ll be able to get a good deal of old paint off the wood, however we don’t have a good plan yet for cleaning off the plaster that ended up getting on the trim work when the guys did the new skim coat. Whoever didn’t prep for that job is gonna owe Jack about a week of her life back.

If you have any tips on removing plaster from woodwork without completely destroying the finish, do tell!

The Sunroom is Now Also A Wind-Rain-Snow Room

Windows, schmindows.

The sunroom’s exterior wall turned into a total tear-down, and once it was all opened it, we felt like it was just lovely as an open air space, even without the windows! We’re sure the fact that we had unseasonably warm temps in the 60s and 70s had nothing to do with it, but we decided to keep the room open to the elements for now and add back in some functional windows later.

New beadboard went up on the ceiling to replace the old stuff that came down, and the guys added a tiny soffit to account for the kitchen range hood exhaust that needed to be vented through the space.

The rest of the room can be sufficiently weather-proofed, and we’ll add a little counter bar to the window area so the kids can eat and do crafty stuff “outside” without too much trouble. Ok, who are we kidding? Real talk: this is where Mama & Papa are having post-baby cocktails and hot wings after the kids go to sleep. A multi-functional space! What’s not to love?

Discovering Electricity

Pendant lights or giant Hershey’s kisses? Either way, I want them in my kitchen.

There are finally some lights on in the kitchen thanks to a long weekend of electrical work. Shortly before the drywall went up (which seems like a lifetime ago), we made a last-minute change to remove the wall between the kitchen and pantry area. It made the whole kitchen feel more open and airy, but also created a major wiring headache, since that particular wall housed a number of light switches and outlets that needed to be relocated.

Both Jack’s (electrician) dad and (electrical assistant) brother were on hand to sort things out and tame the wild wire mess. Meanwhile, Jim played archeologist and dug through some brick and drywall to find the last remaining wires for some counter outlets and the kitchen pendant lights. We didn’t hang them just yet, but Jack got them all sprayed last week to give them some color continuity and they’re just about ready for their moment in the sun 4000K LED-lit kitchen.

We’ve got two different types of pendants going in the kitchen, so Jack sprayed the brown cords on these fixtures black to match the other style. We’re using these antique brass ones in three different areas, so we wanted to be sure they were small and subtle, while still functional and nice to look at.

Jack turned 30-something-or-other this past week, and while most of our spare waking hours were spent at Charlotte House, Jim managed to create the most unreal blueberry lemon crumb cake ever. The cake probably deserved a celebration of its own. So. Good.

What’s Next…

  • Jack will keep on keepin’ on with the woodwork. Please send tips, well wishes, and a foot masseuse.
  • Hardware will be returning to the 2nd floor windows and doors, which will all be fully painted and stained.
  • Another set of doors arrived to be converted into saloon doors, this time leading into the mudroom from the panty. Yippee ki yay
  • We’re looking into flooring options for the master bathroom, as well as options for the shower setup and what we’ll need to get that up and running. Goal: working toilet, shower, and sink before Jack pops out a baby in June.

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